Wherever you are in life right now, and whatever you know, is a result of the ideas, experiences, and people you have interacted with in your life.” This excerpt from Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone encompasses the value of networking and building relationships. As much as we may like to take all the credit for our own success, we would be nothing if it weren’t for our partners and the connections within our own network.
Many fear “networking” perhaps because they don’t understand that it is simply interacting with others, dinner with friends, birthday parties with family, talking with clients at work…all networking. These individuals will be able to help you in ways you never thought imaginable, but it’s all about the effort you put into obtaining and, most importantly, maintaining your network.
I pride myself with being authentic in my interactions with others, being the real me, and being honest in what I say and do. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are always acting in a way that appropriately, and honestly, reflects you and your business because our behaviors demonstrate who we are. Your connections, i.e., network, have gotten to know you by your actions and deeds. Are you a person who can be trusted, counted on, reliable?
Take the Time to Reflect
Staying true to yourself isn’t always easy, but on a daily basis I reflect on my interactions with others and check myself. Where was I my best self and where can I do better? The kind of person you are and the image of your business can be reflected in your network, so for those of you working on building your network or even updating it, keep this in mind as you look for those new connections.
For me, reliability is a factor that I find crucial within my own personal network. In my time in between jobs I always managed to find myself in a place where I knew I could count on my network. No one can do it all on their own, and as stubborn as we all may be sometimes, asking for help is OK! As important as reliability is for me, I always make sure to reciprocate my services to others within my network because, like any relationship, you can’t always expect to take, you have to be willing to give too, even if there is no benefit to you personally.
In my experience with a variety of companies, the thing I think separates them the most is their ability to build and nurture a successful network. If a business doesn’t have a sturdy network they could very well become the target of another company for acquisition or simply have to shut their doors. I’ve experienced this first hand and know it to be an unfortunate reality which is why building and maintaining relationships is a necessity and an important step in expanding your businesses’ network.
The task of building your own personal network can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Take a friend to lunch, join an association relevant to your career path, attend meetings and get to know people in the industry, volunteer in the community for a charity that you believe in,…there are so many ways to build a network. Find those that work for you and use them to your advantage.
Human connections are critical to success both personally and professionally. So get out there, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to show others what you’re made of and what makes you a valuable asset.